We Drank the Cola in Collaboration: Voices of Haitian Teachers in Haiti

We Drank the Cola in Collaboration: Voices of Haitian Teachers in Haiti

Sarah Q. Coupet (Educational Consultant, USA) and Guerda Nicolas (University of Miami, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0897-7.ch008
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Developing high quality teachers is at the center of education reform and previous research has highlighted, high quality in-service teacher professional development leads to improved instruction, student learning, and ultimately promotes social equity. Using an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) theoretical framework, the voices and experiences of educators in Haiti were captured. This study reveals the following themes: 1) an opportunity for self-improvement, 2) an avenue for improving students learning, and 3) an approach to contributing to colleagues' development. An understanding of these themes from a cross-cultural perspective is provided with the objective that school personnel, receiving this population of students will develop an understanding of Haitian student's educational experiences.
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Although the ministry of education in Haiti provides professional development opportunities for educators in the public sector, the majority of educators teach in private sector schools. Non-governmental organizations, faith-based institutions, and private operators also administer professional development; however, there is no institutionalize system of accountability to measure the success of these programs. Furthermore, there is minimal research to support or measure the efficiency of these organizations’ efforts. It is the limited literature on in-service teacher development that has propelled the focus of the current study. This chapter provides a summary of the experiences and perceptions of teachers in a semi-rural region of Haiti regarding professional development trainings. The chapter begins with a contextual understanding of Haiti’s educational realities, followed by a description of the qualitative Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) study that highlights how teachers in Haiti experience and perceive their professional development.

Haiti History and Political Context

The Republic of Haiti occupies one-third of the Caribbean island once called Hispaniola. Ayiti (Haiti in English Translation), meaning mountainous land, was home of the Arawak and Taino people. Their rapid genocide brought Enslaved West Africans starting in 1505 (Clément, 1979). The island was known as the pearl of the Antilles, for French colonizers as Haiti’s rich soil produced great wealth for various European nations under the auspices of chattel slavery of West African people. The unprecedented Haitian Revolution of 1804 is a marker in world history that is silenced in historical canons and yet made Haiti the first Black republic.

Despite this powerful revolution, Haiti struggled to establish a political and economic foundation. This republic maintained a dual society with a minority wealthy elite class (Prou, 2009) and a majority of the population dependent on a stagnant plantation economy (Bellegarde-Smith, 1990). They have since survived under a series of unstable and at times corrupt political regimes including world powers imposing debt, and decades of political embargo and occupation (Bellegarde-Smith,1990; Prou, 2009). This includes the saturation of approximately 11,000 largely American NGOs that absorb much of the economic and political power in the country (Bellegarde-Smith, 2011). Collectively, these events have significantly impacted the education system of the country.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Development: The process of growth and change for the purpose of improvement. In the context of this chapter, development refers to personal growth and professional improvement for the purpose of contributing to students and collegial success.

Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA): A qualitative theoretical framework that is concerned with making meaning of the participants meaning of their lived experiences. IPA is ideographic, hermeneutics and Phenomenological in nature ( Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009 ).

Professional Development (PD): In the traditional context professional development is the process of improving the capacity of teacher’s pedagogical skills and/or contents knowledge through workshops, seminars and other means of ameliorating their teaching performance.

In-Service Teacher Training (IITT): The authors are calling the process that the teachers reported in this study experienced as IITT because access to initial training is concurrent to teaching. The teachers had no access to pre-service course work therefore, their initial teacher development training occurred simultaneously while teaching.

Pre-Service: The process of training that occurs solely before formal employment occurs. Traditionally this process is conducted through course work, practicum, and seminars.

Student Learning: The term is used interchangeably as process and outcome of the academic experiences that improves student skills and content knowledge.

In-Service: Formal training that occurs while the teacher is employed. In-service can take the form of workshops, seminars and coursework.

Teacher Training: A formal preparation process to become a teacher. Traditionally this process is conducted through course work, practicum, and seminars.

Superordinate Theme: Higher ranking clusters of dominant ideas.

Subtheme: A term that designates subcategories of ideas and concepts.

Theme: A term that expresses groups of dominant ideas and concepts.

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